It's been nearly a year since every life on this planet pretty much turned upside down somehow. For many of the littlest citizens, our children, not 'being in school' was something they never dreamed would happen. Outdoor schools are not new, but with a pandemic forcing 'creative' schooling options, they're definitely becoming more of an option, and one parents and kids seem to love!

An article from Today Parents talked about 'Forest Kindergarten'--a kindergarten class in the Hickory Hill Nature School in Pennsylvania.

The kindergarten is hosted outside. Every day, all day, despite the weather.
Yes, even in snowstorms, as we've been experiencing in many parts of the country this winter.

Started by Stacey Cummey five years ago, the school has had a boost in its waitlist over the past year. There are spots for 12 children, but over 40 were on the list to get in, as parents and school districts wonder how to school children safely in a pandemic.

Yes, the children are exposed to elements and they learn all about how to exist and enjoy them at the same time. Starting off warm and having the right gear is what Cummey calls key.

Outdoor schools are nothing new; they're popular across Europe as they were known to start in the late 1950s in Denmark. In the last three years, Nature Preschools and Kindergartens have become more popular, as more parents realize that play really is the work of children and the outdoor environment can't be beaten.

Particularly in a world where school grades that should primarily be hands-on are now remote. Remote preschool? Remote kindergarten? It's an awful burden on children to work through play when they're stuck behind a computer screen.

In a world where parents are also concerned about their children possibly getting COVID, outdoor schools offer the opportunity to follow their interests and explore the outdoors--where there's less concern about spread. Masked, still, the children follow their interests and schooling is child-led in a safe way.

When many preschools and kindergartens may push the focus to read and write, the loss of life skills like exploration, communication and critical thinking/problem-solving are tremendous benefits of outdoor school, and ones that can't easily be reproduced in a traditional classroom.

What do you think? Do you have an outdoor school near you? Have your children participated in outdoor school?

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